I’m so sorry to bring sad tidings to your merry Christmas.
Yesterday afternoon I went over to the coop to check in on the girls and immediately noticed only three of them standing in the pen. 3 pm is late for laying, and no one was on the nesting spot. Thinking we had an AWOL situation, I combed the property, but finding no straggler, I returned to the coop to look more closely.
I found her lifeless, wedged into a corner on the floor of the coop. We have no idea what happened, but Lily is gone. She seemed fine in the morning when I let them out to free-range, and I think she may have laid an egg, although I can’t prove it was her since I didn’t see her on the nest.
I read about sudden death in chickens all the time and have even posted about it on the blog, but I think I had a false sense of security about my girls because they look so healthy and I think (or thought) that I take pretty good care of them.
The possibilities? She could have been eggbound, although I think she may have laid an egg yesterday morning. It’s so hard to tell hers and Hope’s apart that I can’t be 100% sure. Another possibility is that she choked on something. I’ve researched others’ reports of losing chickens suddenly like this and the known causes range from a broken neck (I don’t think so) to fatty liver disease found in a necropsy of a seemingly healthy 6-month-old chicken.
One person explains it this way: “…chickens were never bred to be strong and live long. They were bred to lay more eggs and gain alot of weight.”
The worst of all possibilities is infection, in which case the other three girls are in peril. They show no symptoms of illness, but neither did Lily. We can only watch and wait.